Point of Reference
by Fred Price
I thought faith did it all? Regarding salvation, it does, but in consequence of grace being extended to us, scripture admonishes us to add certain aspects of graciousness to our lives; none more specifically than Peter’s Epistle. In encouraging us to escape the corruption of the world by participating in the “divine nature”, Peter advises us to “…make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.”
“For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffectual and unproductive…” in Christ Jesus. 2 Peter 1:4-8 Peter then finishes this thought process by encouraging us, “…to be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do those things you will never fail,…” in faith and faithfulness. 2 Peter 1:10
If that seems like a difficult list to master, consider Jesus call for us to, “Be perfect… as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:48 The point of Jesus coming, however, was because perfection is impossible for us. Peter again explaining that in lieu of perfection we can “live holy and godly lives.” 2 Peter 3:11 (See also 1 Peter 1:15,16) Referencing Leviticus 1:44, he brings to mind the idea of holiness through consecration; being set apart or wholly devoted to something/someone other than ourselves.
Perfection is the lofty yet unattainable ideal (see Romans 3:23), but we can – by God’s grace and the leading of the Holy Spirit – alter our behavior by consecrating our lives and committing our wills to Christ’s way of doing things. His submission to God’s will, his belief and faith in God causing him to respond in faithfulness; as one without the other is hardly useful. Our attitude, frame of mind and value system should therefore, “…be the same as Christ Jesus.” Philippians 2:5
Christianity is not a static “movement.” To be successful, as defined by God, Christians must be constantly seeking to attain the ideal of holiness, which is the attempt at perfection as identified by God’s Spirit. (Nor is it a gospel of extremes, but checks and balances. See Rom. 6 & James 2) Faithfulness is inherent to faith, challenging us to be more, go further, do better, in Jesus’ name and for his sake – to the benefit of others and ourselves.
Some have a “saving” experience but never darken the door of a church again, consequently never developing a deeper faith, never learning to genuinely pray, worship or change; which is the object and meaning of repentance. Never displaying the fruit or evidence of salvation in their lives; which is “…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Galatians 5:22,23
We have no check-list to refer to or set of rules that dictates who we are or how we behave, but Jesus himself cautioned that, “…wisdom is proved right by her actions.” Matthew 11:19 Warning that a non-productive life could bring eternal judgment even on those who claim to be his followers. (See Matthew 7:15-23 & 25:31-46) Paul insisting that faith alone saves us (See Romans 1:17 & Ephesians 2:8,9 – but don’t leave out verse 10!); but he also insisted that in response to salvation, we are called to an “…obedience that comes from faith.” Romans 1:5 Instructing the Thessalonians to, “Never tire of doing what is right.” 2 Thessalonians 3:13 (See also Romans 12:9-21) John likewise cautioning us to, “…not love with words (alone) but with actions and in truth.” 1 John 3:16-18
When Jesus called his first disciples, and us through them, to “Follow me!”; his expectation was that they/we would go where he went and do what he did. To go deeper in our faith than simply an exclamation of belief accompanied by a claim on his mercy; to be actively involved in His mission and ministry.
He still asks, after all this time, “…do you truly love me?” As a result of an affirmative response, he then challenges us to feed His lambs and care for His sheep! ( John 21:15-19) Achievable in large measure when we increase our knowledge of our Savior and through Him acquire self-control, perseverance and godliness; as a result practicing brotherly kindness and goodness; expressed through our love for him and concern for others.
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Fred Price - married (48 years), father of two grown children, grandfather of six.
Fred retired earlier this year after 42 years as a factory worker. He has always had a heart for young people and the challenges they face today. Over the years Fred has taught Discipleship Groups for High School and college students.
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